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Ultimate Guide to Parenting Styles


1. Introduction

Parenting is a stressful thing, and there are countless things to think about when you’re approaching the subject.

One person will have you believe that their style of parenting is the be-all and end-all, while others will cry in outrage when you explain to them the style you use.

Parenting is tough – it might just be one of the toughest jobs out there – and when you’re having a bad day, it seems like everyone is out to make you feel like a failure.

No matter how good their intentions are, it doesn’t help to be told you’re doing everything wrong!

Even worse, the people who are supposed to be experts at parenting don’t even agree on the best way to do things, either. So, you’re pretty much in the dark while trying to navigate your new, most challenging job.

While you might feel discouraged and stressed when parenting, it’s important to know that every parent feels this way at some point or another.

You simply have to find the parenting style that works for you and your family without worrying about what others have to say.

Today we’re going to be looking at the different parenting styles out there, the impact each has on the children, and other factors that might affect how your child grows up.

So, if you feel as in the dark as us about parenting, keep on reading and we’ll figure it out together.

Four Types of Parenting Styles

2. Four types of Parenting Style

Psychologists and researchers have been working for years to study and understand how different styles of parenting can affect children and their development.

But as there are so many different extraneous factors that can influence a child’s development, this can be difficult.

For example, there is the entire debate of nurture vs nature to think about.

Some people believe that while parenting style might influence your child’s development a little, their genetics will be the driving force behind how they mature.

On the other hand, others might argue that it has nothing to do with your DNA makeup and everything to do with nurture.

So, parenting style is one influencing factor, but so is the environment, their peers, and the current climate.

However, all of the setbacks and difficulties that come with studying child development have not stopped psychologists from persisting at it.

In fact, the study of children and adolescents began in the late 19th century and continues on today.

Diana Baumrind developed the Baumrind Parenting Styles, which we will be looking at today.

The study showed which parenting techniques left their child feeling the happiest and being the most well-adjusted, as well as which practices caused the biggest problems in later life.

Diana Baumrind’s Parenting Style Theory

When studying preschoolers, Baumrind noticed that the young children were exhibiting different behaviors from one another.

They also noticed that each type of behavior that the children were showing was in correlation to a specific kind of parenting that they were being subject to.

The Baumrind theory is that there is a distinct correlation between the type of parenting style used and the child’s behavior. These parenting styles can influence child development and later outcomes.

Baumrind discovered that there were two essential factors that could help to shape a successful parenting style:

  • Responsiveness: How much independence you’re willing to let your child have
  • Demandingness: How much obedience you demand from your child

The way you conduct these two behaviors will determine which dominant parenting style you use.

Baumrind used observation, interviews, and analysis techniques to identify three initial styles of parenting: authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting, and authoritative parenting.

Maccoby and Martin (1983) Theory

While Diana Baumrind was the driving force behind the parenting styles that we are going to be looking at today, Maccoby and Martin took it one step further and expanded the theory.

Baumrind initially created the three parenting styles in 1967. In 1938, they took Baumrind’s permissive parenting style and split it into two new styles: permissive parenting and neglectful parenting.

Now we’re going to be looking into the four parenting styles theory that both Diana Baumrind and Maccoby and Martin researched and developed.

Authoritarian or Disciplinarian

Authoritarian parenting is characterized by high demandingness and low responsiveness, meaning that you demand a lot of obedience and don’t allow much, if any, independence.

This parenting style often comes from having high expectations from your child without giving them much nurturing or feedback.

1. Authoritarian or Disciplinarian

Mistakes will be punished harshly and swiftly with no room for redemption. Although there is not much feedback given to the child when it is the feedback is often negative.

Shouting and physical punishment is common in this parenting style as well.

Parents who follow the authoritarian style are often very strict and have rules set in place at all times.

Baumrind stated that these parents were ‘obedience and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation.’

Permissive or Indulgent

2. Permissive or Indulgent

Next, permissive parenting is on the opposite spectrum of authoritarian parenting. Parents who are permissive don’t demand very much from their children and allow them more independence.

They have low expectations of their children and therefore rarely discipline the child.

These parents are often more nurturing and loving towards their children while leaving them to make major decisions, such as whether they want to do their homework or not.

They emphasize freedom rather than responsibility and have fewer rules in place, or do not enforce the rules.

Bribery is a commonly used technique to get the child to do what the parent wants with permissive parenting, with things such as toys, food, and gifts.

The parents want to act more like friends rather than parents and leave the child without much of a structure at all.

Baumrind believed that permissive parents ‘are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation.’


Uninvolved parenting was the style that Maccoby and Martin added to Baumrind’s original three parenting styles.

It is also sometimes referred to as the neglectful parenting style and is characterized by very low responsiveness and low demands.

3. Uninvolved

The parents are often indifferent, dismissive, or even completely neglectful of their children.

The parents have very little emotional involvement with their children, providing them with not much more than basic necessities such as shelter and food.

Otherwise, they might not care much about parenting their children at all. The degree of neglect might vary greatly, so not all of these parents are necessarily neglecting their children.

While some of these parents will be uninvolved with their kids’ lives, they might still have some basic rules in places such as curfews and bedtimes.

On the other hand, others could simply be neglecting their kids or rejecting them from their lives.

These children are often not given any guidance or affection, and the parents will act emotionally distant from their children.

The parents are also often absent from their children’s events such as school plays and parent-teacher conferences.


4. Authoritative

Finally, the fourth and last parenting style that we are looking at is authoritative parenting. Don’t get this confused with the authoritarian parenting style, as these are two completely different styles.

The authoritative parenting style combines both high responsiveness and high demandingness.

They’ll find a balance between the child’s independence and how much obedience they want from the child. These parents tend to use warmth, sensitivity, and nurturing alongside enforced rules.

The child will often listen and follow the rules due to the good relationship they have with their parents. The parent will rarely use threats or punishment.

Authoritative parenting has been linked to superior child outcomes around the world and will often allow the child to grow up independent, socially accepted, and academically successful.

Baumrind found that authoritative parents took a more modernized approach to parenting that emphasized the need for high standards while being responsive and nurturing.

These parents will expect maturity from their children as well as cooperation and will return emotional support.

Putting These Parenting Styles Into Practice

Now that you know a bit more about the four parenting styles that Baumrind and Maccoby & Martin studied, you might be wondering how each one would look in a real-life situation.

We are going to be using one scenario as an example of how each parenting style would act in a certain situation to highlight the differences between them all.

Below we have included a table of how each parenting style operates according to Baumrind’s two essential elements of parenting: responsiveness and demandingness.

The Four Parenting Styles Summarized

Low Responsiveness High Responsiveness
Low Demandingness Uninvolved or Neglectful Parenting Permissive or Indulgent Parenting
High Demandingness Authoritarian or Disciplinarian Parenting Authoritative Parenting

The scenario we are going to be looking at today is that a child didn’t complete all of their homework in time for class and had to take a letter back home from the teacher explaining how their grades are slipping due to their lack of studying at home.

If the parents practiced authoritarian parenting, they might have shouted at the child and sent them to their room without dinner.

They wouldn’t have given any guidance to the child and they could have forced the child to do all of their homework before being allowed out of their room again.

The parents might have stood over the child while they completed their homework.

Permissive parents might have threatened to send the child to bed without dinner, but not followed through with the punishment.

They probably expressed disappointment after reading the letter, told the child to do their homework for the next day but never enforced the rule.

Parents following the uninvolved parenting style likely wouldn’t have even finished reading the entire letter.

They probably would have been too busy watching their television show or doing their own thing. No guidance would have been given and the child wouldn’t have been told to do their homework.

Authoritative parents might have sent the child to their room after reading the letter and told them to get all of their homework done.

They might come and sit with them and help with the hardest questions. They would explain why homework is important and encourage them to do their homework with plenty of time to avoid this happening again.

All of these styles of parenting shape the child into who they are going to become in the future.

Once a child learns behavior due to their parent’s parenting style, it can become very difficult to unlearn. For example, people with authoritarian parents might be cold and distant from their peers.

However, just because your parents adopted one parenting style does not mean that you have to follow in their footsteps and use it on your own child.

If you found that their parenting style didn’t work very well for you in your childhood, you can choose to adopt a new one altogether.

Suggested Reading: 394 Questions to Ask Kids

The Impact of Parenting Styles

3. The Impact of Parenting Styles

As we have just mentioned, each of the parenting styles that we have looked at does have its own impact on a child’s development and how they behave in adulthood.

Parenting has a large impact on how and why children act the way they do. This, in turn, then shapes them in adulthood and affects them for the rest of their lives. No pressure on all the parents out there!

Let’s take a look at how each of the parenting styles that Baumrind and Maccoby & Martin developed impacts children in the different stages of their lives.

Authoritarian or Disciplinarian

Authoritarian parenting uses strictness and threats to get your child to obey your rules at all times.

While using harsh punishments and threats might seem like a good idea at the time, and leave you with positive short-term results, it has actually been shown to do nothing for long-term results.

5. Authoritarian or Disciplinarian

This parenting style actually seems to make things worse. A meta-analysis of more than 1400 studies found that harsh parenting and psychological control were actually the largest predictors for worsening behavior issues over time.

Martin Pinquart found that children who were subjected to authoritarian parenting developed harsher behavioral issues later in life.

More than one study, conducted by both Glozah (2014) and Calafat et al (2014), found that children subjected to this style of parenting were more likely to abuse alcohol in later life than children who had not.

Children with authoritarian parents often have more difficulties making friends and long-lasting bonds with other people.

They are also more likely to either be the subject or the perpetrator of bullying. Authoritarian parenting often leaves a child with a higher risk of anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression.

It is unknown whether an authoritarian parenting style leads to better school performance or not.

Some studies have found that it actually lowered school grades, such as the Dornbusch et al (1987) study of San Francisco Bay students.

However, other studies have also found that some children’s school performance wasn’t impacted by the parenting style.

Lamborn et al (1996) found that children from lower socioeconomic groups didn’t display a difference in academic performance between authoritative and authoritarian parents.

So, while authoritarian parents might feel as though they are superior and more moral than other parents, the effects of their parenting style leave little to feel proud of.

More often than not, the children grow up to be socially awkward, more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and average in academic performance.

Permissive or Indulgent

6. Permissive or Indulgent

Permissive parenting has been recognized as being one of the worst parenting styles among child development experts.

This parenting style can lead to plenty of faults in later adulthood, with lots of studies being used to back up the claim that this is a poor parenting style to follow.

For starters, children of these parents will have worse academic performance than others as the parents very rarely monitor what their children are doing.

For example, they won’t be managing their schoolwork and making sure that it is all completed on time.

The lack of habit will increase the likelihood of the child growing up with less self-discipline. These parents will also not give their children a goal to work towards which can make them lower-achieving as they become older.

One study found a link between the permissive parenting style and cheating tendencies during examinations among Kenya Secondary School students.

Children growing up in this environment also tend to be more impulsive and aggressive, as the parents rarely regulate their children’s behavior.

This means that the child will be less aware of how it is socially acceptable to behave in the world.

Behavioral issues are also common in children with permissive parents, such as using aggression in stressful situations rather than thinking logically on how to tackle it.

These children are less likely to understand how to work through a problem without using negative emotions.

Much like those who grew up with authoritarian parents, children with permissive parents are more likely to abuse substances such as recreational drugs and alcohol.

Studies have also found that they are more likely to be associated with crimes (Hoeve et al, 2009).

These children also exhibit worse social skills, they are less able to self-regulate their emotions, and they are also more likely to be overweight.


We’re sure that no one will be surprised when we say that uninvolved parenting can have devastatingly negative effects on a child.

Children need love, attention, and nurture to thrive into well-adjusted adults, which uninvolved parenting does not offer in the slightest.

7. Uninvolved

While this section of our guide is bound to be rather negative, it is interesting to note that children of uninvolved parents do learn self-reliance and how to take care of themselves at an earlier age.

This might increase their maturity from an early age.

However, as we have seen from permissive parenting, children being left to their own devices often doesn’t work out well and can force them to grow up with anger issues, behavioral problems, and substance abuse.

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to children with uninvolved parents is the lack of social skills they’re likely to develop.

The children don’t have a relationship with their parents, so how are they supposed to know how to develop bonds with others? This can lead to low self-esteem and neediness.

Children of uninvolved parents also have a harder time coping with negative things in their life.

A 2007 study showed researchers evaluating how different parenting styles affected how 670 first-year students, between the ages of 16 and 25, experienced homesickness.

The study concluded that those who came from authoritative parents and permissive parents were more likely to experience homesickness than those who were brought up by authoritarian and uninvolved parents.

The latter groups did experience homesickness, but they didn’t express it as well as the former groups.

Children of authoritarian and uninvolved parents also had a more difficult time processing and coping with their feelings, suggesting that the lack of love and nurture affects how young people adjust to living away from home.

Uninvolved parenting leaves the child with little to no relationship with their parents.

This makes it more likely for them to repeat the same style with their own children as they don’t understand a healthy relationship between parent and child.



Authoritative parenting has been found to be the most effective parenting style in a number of different ways – academic, emotional, social, and behavioral.

These parents expect a lot from their children but are also put a lot into the relationship and aren’t afraid to change their behavior to help their child.

It seems that every aspect of authoritative parenting has its own benefits, and that is why this style of parenting is so successful.

Inductive discipline is commonly used in authoritative parenting and is the act of explaining why the rules are in place rather than just enforcing them, as in authoritarian parenting.

Inductive discipline has been linked with advanced moral reasoning skills according to multiple studies such as Krevans and Gibb (1996) and Kerr et al (2004).

Authoritative parenting also promotes secure attachments and allows the children to grow up being able to voice their opinions and problems rather than internalizing them, which can lead to behavioral issues and mental health problems.

Children with authoritative parents are also less likely to develop substance and alcohol abuse problems, be associated with crimes, and be involved with other antisocial behaviors.

One study that displays this is Benchaya et al (2011), but there are many others to back up these claims.

Authoritative parenting allows the children to experience more independence while still giving them a loving and supportive environment.

So, the added independence can make the child more self-reliant with better emotional health without leaving them feeling neglected like uninvolved parenting would.

An authoritative disciplinary approach is more likely to leave the child with a better ability to sort out their problems without the use of aggression.

They will use more mature techniques to work through their problems rather than ignore them.

Children with loving and responsive parents are also more likely to be helpful, popular, and kind to others. This was displayed in a study conducted in the Netherlands by Dekovic and Janssens (1992).

The results showed that children with authoritative parents were described as more helpful and kind by their peers and teachers than those with other parenting styles.

Behavioral Red Flags To Understand How Parenting Styles Affect Children

Children will often display different behaviors according to how your parenting style is affecting them, whether that be positively or negatively.

If you’re trying out a new parenting style you should watch your child carefully to see how they’re responding to it.

9. Behavioral Red Flags To Understand How parenting styles affect children

Not every parenting technique is going to be successful for your child. The good news is that you can often see the red flag displayed by them and alter the technique to suit them better.

By doing this quickly, your child will likely not suffer from any long-term effects from this negative parenting technique.

Below are a few red flags that you can look for your child displaying. This will give you a better understanding of how your child responds to certain parenting styles.

1. Low self-image

Your child might begin displaying signs of a low self-image. This can be seen by them constantly needing reassurance or compliments from other people.

They also might want sympathy from others and go to impressive lengths to achieve this.

They might also hand more tasks off to others because they believe that they cannot do it properly without being disciplined. On the other hand, the child might start acting out in dangerous ways to make them feel more confident.

2. Mental health indicators

Following on from the previous point, children who are not responding well to parenting techniques might start displaying indicators of anxiety or depression.

Mental health problems can be felt by young children but many go unnoticed because adults don’t believe that children can experience these.

There are plenty of indicators that allow you to catch anxiety quickly, including physical, emotional, and behavioral signs. Catching it quickly can allow you to change your behavior and figure out what is causing distress in your child.

If your child is displaying signs of crankiness, social withdrawal, changes in appetite, and trouble concentrating, they might be showing signs of depression.

There are many symptoms to look out for to avoid this going any further.

3. Deteriorating performance in school

If your child is not happy at home and has a lot on their mind, they might see a decrease in their academic performance. This includes lower grades, being sent home more frequently, and not completing their homework.

A subject that your child might have once loved will now become of little importance to them. If they were very academic before, you might notice that they care less about school and more about sitting in front of the television.

4. Acting out

Acting out is common in children, such as acting hostile or aggressive to their peers. However, many parents don’t take much notice of this because they believe that ‘kids will be kids.

Instead, we urge you to find out what is wrong with your child and why they are acting differently than they used to. Instead of disciplining them right away for acting out, work with them to find the solution to what’s troubling them.

5. Experiencing less self-control

A lack of self-control can be due to a number of factors, and it can be difficult to manage.

Children with lower self-control might lash out at their peers when in a stressful situation as they don’t know how to properly manage their emotions.

Children often experience lower self-control as a response to something going on in their life, for example, a change in parenting style.

Children with lower self-control often feel embarrassed or frustrated that they are not managing their emotions how they’re supposed to.

6.Health issues

You can often tell that something is wrong with children depending on any health issues that they are experiencing. The most common ailments are stomach ache and headaches from stress or anger.

Being able to manage these emotions should be enough to stop your child from feeling these issues.

However, if they remain undiagnosed they could lead to further health issues that can put your child in more danger.

Another health issue to look out for is if your child’s eating habits. If these have changed in any way you might want to look at why this has happened.

Eating habits can change in a number of ways – they might hate something they used to love, become very picky, or simply not want to eat at all.

Any change in eating habits is not a good thing, so determine why this has happened as quickly as possible to avoid the new habits becoming permanent, as a picky eating child is never a good thing.

Other Factors That Influence How A Child Will Turn Out

4. Other Factors That Influence How A Child Will Turn Out

Your parenting style is not the only factor that will play a role in your child’s development, so don’t worry about getting it correct 100% of the time.

However, you should focus on these other factors to ensure that they don’t undo all of the work you’ve done with your parenting style and influence your child’s development adversely.

The child’s temperament

10. The child’s temperament

The way your child responds to a certain parenting style will affect how your child will turn out.

For example, a child with a short temper might not work well with an authoritative parenting style and therefore grow up with less of the benefits that it usually offers.

On the other hand, a child that is very cooperative and understanding is more likely to grow up more well-rounded with an authoritative parenting style.

Some people believe that a child’s temperament is genetic and therefore cannot be influenced, while others believe that it can be determined by early parenting.

A teachers’ style of working with children and the match of teaching style to parenting style

Much like parenting styles, there appear to be four main teaching styles depending on the teacher’s involvement with the child and discipline.

These teaching styles can either accentuate or hinder the effects of the parenting style chosen.

11 A teachers' style of working with children and the match of teaching style to parenting style

  • Permissive-neglectful: Low involvement, weak discipline
  • Permissive-indulgent: High involvement, weak discipline
  • Authoritative: High involvement, strong discipline
  • Authoritarian: Low involvement, strong discipline

Each of these teacher styles echoes the parenting styles that we have been focusing on. If you chose an authoritative parenting style but their teacher had an authoritarian style, the effects of your parenting might be dampened.

In the United States, primary school children spend an average of 1,096 hours learning in school. This is a lot of time for your parenting influence to be dampened while your child is away from you.

The influence of a child’s peer group

12. The influence of a child’s peer group.

Again, the peers your child decides to spend time with will influence how they grow up.

As children get older, they begin spending more time with their friends and less time at home with their parents.

Some children with lesser social skills are alienated from their peers and picked on, which can lead to depression and loneliness.

This knock to their self-confidence will be carried through to later adulthood and they might find it harder to make friends even as adults.

On the other hand, children who seem to be very popular with their peers can either grow up to remain as friendly and as popular as they once were, while others might dwindle.

It is possible that they will find the fact that they have to work harder for friendships, something they didn’t have to do as children, too difficult to make any strong connections.

Having a lack of peers can make adults feel lonely and isolated. It can also have a knock-on effect on their career and many other aspects of their life.

Criticisms of Parenting Style Research

5. Criticisms of Parenting Style Research

While authoritative parenting has been proven to be the most beneficial parenting style of the Baumrind theory, it is not without its flaws.

For starters, normal phases of rebellion and anger could be particularly difficult for authoritative parents.

It can be difficult for authoritative parents to find the balance between independence and discipline while dealing with these phases and leaning further one way than the other can easily change your parenting style from authoritative to authoritarian or permissive.

Another factor to consider is that there is no quantitative way to measure how much independence or discipline you’re giving your child. There is no point system, so how are you to judge your parenting style correctly?

This is a common criticism of the four parenting styles, as one parent might consider their style to be not very strict at all, but to another, it could seem incredibly strict.

It seems as though every parenting style is up to interpretation and therefore can be difficult to study multiple parents following one parenting style, as they will all have slightly different ways of doing so.

Finally, many psychologists believe that there are many more than just four parenting styles.

Not every parent is going to follow the authoritative style to the letter throughout their child’s life, so it is not as simple as fitting every parent into one of the four boxes.


6. Conclusion

Diana Baumrind found a distinctive difference between three parenting styles in 1967, and Maccoby & Martin later added one more to the initial research in 1983.

These were: authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, or authoritative parenting.

Each of these styles of parenting can be identified by how responsive the parents are as opposed to how demanding they are of their children.

Each parenting style has a different impact on the children and their life traveling all the way to adulthood.

Authoritative parenting is deemed to be the best parenting style and is applauded by psychologists all over the world. This is due to the style finding a good balance between independence and discipline for the child.

Authoritarian parenting is too strict and uninvolved is too relaxed, both of which often lead to a poor relationship between the parents and the child.

Permissive is not the best style to opt for either, as it allows the child to get away with bad behavior without any repercussions.

One style does not fit every child; however, so make sure to look out for the red flags that could indicate that your child is not coping well with the chosen parenting style.

These can include a low self-image, poor academic performance, and acting out.

Of course, the parenting style is not the only factor that will influence how your child grows up. These parenting styles are also not without their criticisms, so it is important to remember that they are not the be-all and end-all of parenting.

Remember that most parents don’t know what they’re doing at some point or another, so do your best and pay attention to how your child responds to your parenting.

This is the best way to determine whether you need to change your parenting style or not.